Enlightened Conflict

you do not get credit for what you are supposed to do

August 28th, 2017

 

work doing the best you can not enough

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“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”

 

——

Henry Kissinger

 

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“When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you have done anything at all.”

 

God (in Futurama)

 

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Well.

 

 

Think what you want and say what you want to say about Kissinger … but the unseen lifeopening quote is awesome <although, geologically speaking, it may not be truly accurate>.

 

In our quest for recognition as a leader many business people, and leaders in general, seemingly get shoved <on seemingly a daily basis> into some absurd universe where everyone judges you <mostly on some absurd views of ‘being noticed is what matters’ or ‘shine bright like a diamond‘>. I say that because this means thinking of yourself as a piece of coal seems … well … quite underwhelming and quite ‘unleaderly’ <I made that word up>.

 

Uhm.

 

But.

 

One of the most frustrating things you learn early on in a management career path is that you do not get credit for what you are expected to do.

 

And maybe what makes this most frustrating is that this lesson applies to a crisis as well as the most mundane everyday grind responsibilities.

 

But.

 

The thing is as you gain more and more responsibility you learn that this is actually a good thing.

 

People like reliability.

 

People like consistency.

 

People like a foundation of quiet competent leadership.

 

People like you doing what you are supposed to do <with little fanfare>.

leadership confidence credit insecure Trump

 

 

This is a lesson learned early on in a management career … and you can tell the leaders who <a> did not learn it or <b> saw the lesson but lack self-confidence … because they … well … ignore the lesson and exhibit ongoing aggravating self promotion <even on the things they are expected to do>.

 

That said.

 

This doesn’t mean you aren’t tempted to take amount or two to point out in some fairly loud messaging that you want some credit for what you are doing.

 

This is the ‘dance.’ The management & leader “credit dance.’ I call it a dance because every good leader knows they have to do some self-public relations and, yet, they don’t want to be seen as doing any overt self-public relations.

 

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“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

 

—–

Winston Churchill

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Being a great leader is all about doing your job and doing the right things at the right time … and <I imagine> figuring out how to actually tell people that you did the right things at the right time. This means not being seen a as blowing your own horn or being some narcissistic attention seeking, credit seeking asshat but rather one who understands it really isn’t about gaining credit or accolades but rather reassuring people that the right things, the good things, just get done under your watch.

 

I would note that reassurance is a powerful tool.

 

It is powerful because doing things right isn’t about small … nor large … but if you do it right … really right … people will not really be sure that you’ve done anything at all and, yet, feel reassured that you are there.

 

Now.

 

In today’s bombastic world it can actually become a bad thing if no one notices. Why? <insert a ‘huh?!?’ here> because someone else at the exact same time is telling everyone what they did … and yes … unfortunately … often the squeaky wheel does get the grease.

 

Aw heck.

 

The truth is that the value is never in the credit. And leaders know that. And we everyday schmucks need to remind ourselves of that more often.

 

—-

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

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Leaders know that the little things can matter and that just delivering upon good person what you do not what you saywhat you are supposed to do really matters <a lot>.

 

A subtle touch can create the needed ripples. Doing what you are supposed to do insures the right ripples are always … well … rippling.

 

Good leaders know you can be the initiator, instigator or implementer … or even all of them … and it doesn’t really matter.

 

I would note that within the realm of doing what you are supposed to do about the only thing that can truly diminish ‘greatness of simple doing’ is not accepting responsibility – for the bad and the good and all that it takes to get to either place.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that what I just stated is ‘character’.

 

Leaders don’t lead by asking or telling people to follow it most often happens by doing the shit you are supposed to do really well.

I know. I know. that doesn’t sound “great” but greatness really cannot be achieved without it.

 

Oh.

This kind of suggests that greatness is a contradiction.

 

Let’s use Winston as an example.

Huge ego. MASSIVE ego. Charismatic speaker. Maybe one of the greatest orators of all time. Made some huge mistakes. HUGE mistakes.

 

But humble in his responsibility. He permitted  the people to get credit for success and strength and what needed to be done … all the while doing what he as supposed to be doing.

 

He was vocal, and sincere, on issues and the people of Great Britain getting credit.

All despite his ego.

 

Great leadership reflects a unique balance of ego and humility.

Ego to effectively lead and humility to be effectively followed.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere on the line between those two things.

 

I would imagine those with the greatest character reside somewhere in between not getting credit for what they are supposed to do and actually being acknowledged for enabling greater greatness.

 

Well.

 

I know it isn’t popular to say this but most of the best things in Life, and leadership,  are found in the unspectacular:

 

  • The best people more often than not go unseen and unnoticed by the majority.

 

  • The best moments more often than not go unseen until looking back.

 

Just as perfection is most often found in the imperfections … spectacular is most often found in the unspectacular. And, yes, doing what you are supposed to do is unspectacular.

 

But I would argue the spectacular would never ever happen if the ‘supposed to do’ shit never happened.

 

In the end.

 

do what you said you would

Great leaders are often judged by what you don’t see them doing. This also means great leaders are often judged by what they feel comfortable remaining silent about … by what they don’t say about what they are supposed to do and supposed to be.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out this is a little more difficult than it may appear. It is a little more difficult because a great leader does have to have some ego and some higher level of confidence and, therefore, some positive affirmation kind of helps to put some well needed oxygen back into the confidence balloon.

It takes a awhile to learn you don’t have to ask for oxygen or even try and fill it yourself … well … at least good leaders learn that … the bad, insecure ones never do.

 

 

a different case for better healthcare for all

August 3rd, 2017

life expectancy health statistic

 

 

I have made the case a number of times why healthcare for everyone benefits America from a productivity standpoint. Today I will try to make a case for healthcare for all by pointing out an underlying real issue which creates some disillusionment <which obviously drove some of the Trump support during the election> in middle America.

 

We often discuss inequality in terms of economics & opportunity … but how about something which cuts to the core being of everyone – life expectancy inequality.

 

I came across a map created in May of this year showing life expectancy by county.

 

life expectancy health map colored

 

Well.

 

Yikes.

 

Okay.

 

Double yikes.

 

The average life expectancy … yes … average … in individual counties can vary by up to 20 … yes … 20 … years.

 

Yes.

 

If you live in certain counties the average life expectancy is around 87 years <remember … this is average for an entire county> and in other counties the average life expectancy is around 67 years.

 

Holy shit.

 

Average.

 

20 years difference.

 

And I am not smart enough to do the cross tab <or invest the energy> but if you look at the life expectancy map and you were to overlay the Trump voter support I would bet <and I am not a betting man> that the counties which have the 20 years less life expectancy … shit … the counties with lower standard deviation life expectancies in general … went overwhelmingly for the Trumpster.

 

So for all the intellectuals, faux & real, who suggest many of the Trump voters are ignorant, misguided and stupid … you may want to shut up and think about this for a second.

 

These people have a legitimate gripe.

 

Yeah.

 

Life expectancy is pretty legitimate.

 

I mean if my local community is dying off around me and I look around at other communities who seem not only getting better breaks but are actually living longer … well … I am gonna start thinking I am being overlooked and underappreciated.

 

............ Life expectancy standard deviation ................

………… Life expectancy standard deviation …………….

 

 

Combine that with the fact the gap between longer life expectancy counties and lower life expectancy counties is actually growing and, well, I am gonna start truly believing that the elites & establishment do not really care.

 

 

“There’s no sign of the gap closing. In fact, it appears to be widening. Between 1980 and 2014, the gap between the highest and lowest life spans increased by about two years.

 

“With every passing year, inequality — however you measure it — has been widening over the last 34 years. And so next year, we can reliably expect it’ll be even more than 20.”

 

“That is probably the most alarming part of the analysis.”

 

———–

Christopher Murray:  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

 

So.

 

Having attended this rodeo before, I know I can count on getting a number of intellectual sounding emails pointing out the inevitable flaws in my thinking and conclusions. My suggestion to those people is please hit ‘unsend’ and get off your intellectual high horse and think about this.

 

Flawed logic or not … if I am in a county dying off at early ages I am more likely to be thinking I live in India and not in America. And if I even perceive that, if I even have a sense of that, I am gonna start wishing for what I thought America was again.

 

Parse out the flawed aspects behind my ‘America was again’ thought if you want but on the surface this is a no brainer thought. Dying can make you wish for a shitload of things that intellectually can seem less than logical but are actually well intended thoughts – because, uhm, this pertains to life & death.

 

All of this permits me to circle back to healthcare.

 

Maybe print out the map of life expectancy and put it beside your computer while you read this part.

 

health is wealth illness expensiveWe talk about putting healthcare in the hands of people.

 

We talk about subsidies for health insurance companies.

 

We talk about inordinate bureaucracy for … well … physicians, hospitals and patients.

 

We talk about high premiums, high deductibles and high falutin’ reasons why healthcare works and doesn’t work.

 

It’s all talk.

 

And it’s all bullshit.

 

Important bullshit in terms of actually getting something done but unimportant bullshit in terms of we are not getting something done.

 

Just because someone lives somewhere doesn’t mean they should have a lower life expectancy than someone who lives somewhere else … at least if they live in America <other countries deal with their own problems>.

 

Is health insurance the only reason for this?

Of course not <so keep your snarky emails to yourself>.

 

But health is certainly a reason for this.angry but open our minds tupac

 

At the core of life expectancy is … well … health. And I don’t really care how much you earn, what kind of education you have had, what kind of job you have, or do not have, but it seems like if you live in county X you should be offered equal health opportunities to those received in county Y.

 

There is more than enough inequality haunting the United States these days without having health services & insurance inequality.

 

There is more than enough inequality haunting the United State these days without having life expectancy inequality.

 

Enlightened Conflict